Heading into it’s 39th season in 2014-15, the North American Hockey League (NAHL) is the oldest and one of the largest USA Hockey-sanctioned junior circuits with 24 teams representing some of the nation’s emerging hockey markets, as well as, traditional hot beds in 11 states.
On June 4th, the North American Hockey League held their 2014 NAHL draft. A total of 216 players who were between the ages of 16 – 20 were selected to 24 teams.
Lucas Debenedet of the Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League in northwestern Ontario heard his name called in the second round of the 38th NAHL draft. Debenedet was drafted 30th overall by the Minot Minotauros from Minot, North Dakota.
The 19 year old International Falls, Minnesota native finished the SIJHL season with 69 games. Debenedet scored 51 goals and had 73 assists during 56 regular season and 13 playoff games in the 2013 – 2014 season. Debenedet also made an appearance at the 2014 Dudley Hewitt Cup in Wellington, ON where the Lakers represented the SIJHL. In 4 games in Wellington, Lucas assisted on 3 more games at the 2014 Dudley Hewitt Cup.
Junior Hockey Network talked to Debenedet after being selected in the second round and Lucas told us that “It was pretty cool being drafted so high. I wasn’t expecting that to be honest. As for my plans I’m hoping to make Minot my home come this August and see where it takes me.”
Lakers coach Wayne Strachan told Junior Hockey Network that “It is definitely an honour and great feat for Lucas as well as our team to have a player recognized for his play and our development of our players. I am happy for Lucas and proud of all his accomplishments. As a general manager it is not that easy to sit back and say but we are in the game to develop and help players reach their goals. We would definitely like to see Lucas back in the white, red and black, but we understand he has options and will ride out the next couple months to see what comes of this.”
Minot assistant coach Nigel Dube told Junior Hockey Network that “Lucas showed that he is very smart in all three zones of the ice, he is capable of being very offensive but knows how to play on the defensive side of the puck. We struggled this past season at times to find the back of the net and generate a lot of Grade A scoring opportunities and we believe he can change that for us, we also think that Lucas will be able to come in and have an impact from the start. He is a player that has played at the junior level and knows what it takes, when finding out more about Lucas and his family he is a person with great character and leadership abilities.”
On July 18th – 20th in International Falls, Minnesota, in Debenedet’s hometown, the Lakers will be holding their annual camp.
At camp we will be looking to fill around 13 positions. With our graduating players, some players we had to finalize trades from throughout the year and a few that have requested to go home to attend school this is what we are facing to try and repeat as SIJHL Champions. We are recruiting hard and have offered some good hockey players spots on our roster, However we will look for the best players to help mould our team back into a championship calibre contender to again go deep into our league playoffs. Speed, hockey knowledge, skill, defensive tendencies and hard work will be things we look for to help get our roster to where it needs to be to start the season.
All camp info and registration forms are on our website www.fortfranceslakers.com.